Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson received three months of probation after pleading no contest to a charge of misdemeanor domestic assault, according to the Tennesseean’s Natalie Neysa Alund.
Alund explains that, going forward, there are two potential outcomes for Watson: a) the case would be expunged if Watson doesn’t violate the terms of probation or b) he could face as long as a year in jail if he violates the terms of his probation. You can learn more about the terms of Watson’s probation here, which include “peaceful contact with the victim” and completing a 26-week program.
These details were reported after the incident, which happened in late June.
As of this writing, the Predators have yet to release a statement regarding the court decision. The NHL announced in a statement that they will be opening up an investigation:
Following today’s events in Nashville, we have notified the Club and the NHLPA that the League will be initiating a full investigation into the matter, pursuant to the procedures set forth in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, to determine the extent to which League discipline for Mr. Watson’s off-ice conduct may be warranted and/or appropriate.
The Club understands and agrees fully with the League’s view as to the extremely serious nature of the situation and has pledged its full cooperation in the process.
We will refrain from making any further public comments on the matter until our investigation is complete.
Here is a statement via Watson’s attorney Mark Puryear:
The Tennesseean’s Jon Garcia provided an in-depth look at how the NHL and individual teams have handled allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence in the past, noting that Nashville continued to employ Mike Ribeiro while he faced a 2015 civil lawsuit (which was eventually settled). Garcia notes that the NHL doesn’t have an official policy regarding sexual assault or domestic violence, although this CBA clause more broadly addresses criminal investigations overall:
Section 18-A.5 states, “the League may suspend the Player pending the League’s formal review and disposition of the matter where the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League.”
Watson, 26, is currently under contract with the Predators for the next two seasons.